Saturday, February 4, 2023

Martina Navrátilová

Today is the second significant day of the year.  It is the Day of Czechs Abroad and it is meant to honour Czechs who emigrated.  The USA is the country with the largest number of Czechs living abroad and one of the most famous emigres is Martina Navrátilová.   

Martina Navratilova is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time.  She dominated women's tennis in the 1970s and 1980s and with 59 major titles.  She won her first major title in 1974 and won her last major title in 2006, just before her 50th birthday.  She'd been winning major tennis titles for 32 years.  Wow!  Here's the official trailer from YouTube for Martina Navratilova: Unrivalled.

©US Open Tennis Championships

She was born in Prague in 1956.  She started playing tennis at a young ago and she won the national tennis championship in Czechoslovakia when she was just 15.  In 1975 she turned professional.  While on tour in the USA in 1975, when she was 18 years old, she asked for political asylum and was given a green card.  When she defected, the communists stripped her of her Czechoslovak citizenship.  In 1981 she became an American citizen.  After the Velvet Revolution and Velvet Divorce, she was able to gain Czech citizenship in 2008 and is now a dual citizen of the USA and Czechland.  

Once she was an American citizen she came out of the closet and has been an active spokesperson and role model for the LGBT community.  It's sad that she could not come out earlier but if she did then it could have disqualified her from gaining U.S. citizenship.

Here's a short video I found on YouTube that talks about her life and career.

©Juana Chaves

Here's a short video about the first time she returned to Czechoslovakia in 1986.  This was the first time that she was able to see her parents since she defected.  


I'll be honest.  When I was moving to Czechland, if someone asked me to name a famous Czech I would have only been able to name Václav Havel, Věra Čáslavská, and Martina Navrátilová.  Thanks to living here, now I know way more but I'd have to say that Martina is still the best well known.

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